By Catherine Kenwell
During one of our private tasting events, our guests talked a lot about wine. Of course, we often think of wine as an integral part of our favorite social gatherings (alongside bread, cheese, an exquisite EVOO and a beautiful balsamic), but this particular conversation revealed some of the similarities between red wine and EVOO.
We sometimes forget that olives are fruit, just like grapes. When crushed, both olives and grapes produce fruit juice (we’ve talked about olive juice in previous blogs). But while grapes and their juices are aged and manufactured to make wine and balsamic vinegar, olive juice—extra-virgin olive oil—is best when it is freshly crushed.
And what makes the best EVOOs and fine wines taste great? Both start with exceptional fruit—grown in rich soil and optimal environments. The best EVOOs and wines are both produced with specific varietals (using wine terminology), for example, Pino Noir for wine, Arbequina for EVOO.
That being said, there are wonderful wines and EVOOs that blend different varieties of grapes or olives—we’ve had Italian and Chilean blends that fly from the shelves. Your individual palate will tell you which one is right for you.
The similarities don’t stop there. Research shows that both red wines and EVOOs offer health benefits such as bioflavonoids (antioxidant plant compounds) and polyphenols (plant-based micronutrients) that can reduce the risk of diabetes, high cholesterol and inflammation. Both EVOOs and red wines are key components in the Mediterranean diet and the MIND brain diet.
But how did we even begin the conversation comparing EVOOs and wines? It all started when we poured a delicious Frantoio EVOO for our guests. For our tastings, we use what we call ‘olive oil snifters’—small, stemless brandy-style glasses.
We encouraged our guests to warm the snifters in their palms, and then cover them with their other hand. Swirling the palm-enclosed glasses, we warmed and released the EVOO’s delicate floral, grassy fragrance. Each guest was encouraged to talk about what they could detect in the scent. Then, we tasted the Frantoio. Again, we asked each guest to describe what they tasted. ‘Grass,’ said one. ‘Green flowers,’ said another. ‘Spicy and peppery,’ offered a third guest.
Our guests had laughed when they started the tasting process, and said, ‘this is just like wine tasting!’ Well, yes it is. And for good reason. We want to create the best tasting environment so that our guests can taste the unique characteristics of each of our EVOO ‘varietals’.
We see fine red wine and extraordinary EVOOs as delicious, accessible partners in health and social enjoyment. So the next time you’re noshing on a treat of good wine, good EVOO, perhaps accompanied by some rustic bread and artisan cheeses, remember: you’re getting your fruits, vitamins and health benefits in the most delicious way possible!
Cheers to your health!